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Exhibition Drawn to Purpose

New Narratives, New Voices

Since the 1940s, the voices of mothers, children, pre-teens, feminists, and coworkers bring new stories into comic strips, minicomics, comic books, and graphic narratives. In addition to mainstream outlets, underground and independent publishers, alternative weekly papers, self-publishing, and the web have become important platforms. For Better or For Worse chronicles the ups and downs of the Patterson family in the voice of the mother "Elly," the multi-faceted character with whom creator Lynn Johnston closely identifies. Alison Bechdel's characters humorously rail against the resurgence of the girdle and other means of pressuring women to conform to "ideal" body types. Both cartoonists signal women's desires to move beyond limitations often imposed on their gender. Jillian Tamaki and Lynda Barry present snapshots from two pre-teen girls' experiences of family life. Tamaki's elegantly drawn panels show childhood friends enjoying summer adventures at the beach. Barry uses mixed media techniques to create less idyllic but no less engaging autobiographical scenes of neighbors and family life. These examples represent but a small fraction of the vibrant, varied stories told in diverse voices and artistic styles to be found in recent comics and graphic narratives drawn by contemporary female artists.

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